The union representing Southwest Airlines flight attendants is condemning the carrier’s move to bring back alcohol onboard later this month, calling it “unsafe and irresponsible.”
Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Union Condemns Return Of Alcohol Sales Onboard
Southwest unexpectedly announced that it would resume alcohol sales onboard and expand its soft drink offering starting on February 16, 2022. On that date, beer, wine, and hard liquor will once again be available for purchase on all flights over 176 miles, weather permitting. Furthermore, tonic water, apple juice, Coke Zero, Dr. Pepper, hot tea, and hot cocoa will be added to the current soft drink lineup. It has been nearly two years since Southwest has offered alcohol onboard.
Tony Roach, Southwest’s Vice President of Customer Experience and Customer Relations, explained the sudden policy change:
“Customers have expressed a desire for more beverage options, so we’re delighted to restore additional on-board offerings as a part of the Southwest Hospitality that our Customers know and love.”
But Lyn Montgomery of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 556, which represents Southwest Airlines flight attendants, and herself a flight attendant, expressed concern:
“We have adamantly and unequivocally informed management that resuming sales of alcohol while the mask mandate is in place has the great potential to increase customer non-compliance and misconduct issues.”
She added the move would be “unsafe and irresponsible,” subjecting flight attendants to unnecessary risk.
While United Airlines and Delta Air Lines resumed serving beer, wine, and hard liquor onboard last year, American Airlines and Southwest took a different path, linking alcohol consumption to onboard disturbances and hinting that any return of alcohol sales would be associated with the lifting of the federal mask mandate. Ironically, disturbances on American and Southwest have been higher than on Delta and United during the pandemic, perhaps in part due to their strict no alcohol policy, which may have encouraged more passengers to bring their own alcohol onboard, in larger quantities.
Southwest Airlines is expanding its soft drink selection and bringing back liquor sales on February 16th. Drink chits will again be accepted. But the union representing flight attendants at Southwest has condemned the move, calling it “unsafe and irresponsible.”
Southwest’s move makes American Airlines the lone holdout when it comes to the return of liquor sales.
image: Southwest Airlines